The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) says Sinoe County Senator Milton Teahjay’s recent libel suit filed against the independent FrontPage Africa (FPA) Newspaper at the Civil Law Court in Liberia, is a publicity stunt meant to sway public opinion from his exposed shady deals in the Liberian Senate and the government as a whole.
On July 10, 2020, Frontpage Africa reported that Senator Teahjay was replaced as chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Autonomous Agencies because he allegedly received a US 20 thousand dollars bribe from the disgraced and rejected chairman-designate of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Cllr. A. Ndubusi Nwabudike. In the wake of the publication, Senator Teahjay on July 12, 2020, initiated a legal action against the Paper. According to media reports, the Sinoe County Senator is seeking US 4.7 million dollars as compensatory damages for willful and malicious falsehood propagated against by the Paper.
In a press release issued on July 24, 2020, ALJA urged the Sinoe lawmaker to immediately withdraw his ill-advised libel suit against FrontPage Africa. The Association said it is preposterous that Mr. Teahjay would sue for libel even while admitting to compromising the integrity of the confirmation process.
ALJA says the Sinoe County Lawmaker’s public admission that as former chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Autonomous Agencies, his office had a tradition, which literally coerced presidential nominees to make pre-confirmation commitments to the hiring of individuals recommended by him at public institutions at which they were designated, is a vindication for FPA.
The Association says Senator Teahjay willfully admitted to seeking a quid pro quo from Cllr. Nwabudike that would benefit him personally as chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Autonomous Agencies. ALJA says the Senator’s admission was an inadvertent indictment of himself, members of the Senate Standing Committee on Autonomous Agencies, and the Senate’s plenary for engaging in acts that eroded the fundamental intent and purpose of the confirmation hearings.
ALJA says the Senator’s admission provides the clearest explanation yet why many Presidential nominees, with rare exceptions, are confirmed to positions of trust in government without the due diligence that members of the senate should attach to the process.
Meanwhile, the Association says it supports the FPA management and the paper’s editorial staff in their quest to uncover acts of corruption by public officials including Senator Teahjay. The US based Liberian Journalists organization expressed disappointment that public officers have normalized bribery and interest peddling as a function of their official responsibility.
At the same time, the Association is calling on the leadership of the Liberian Senate to immediately institute a probe into the Senator’s recent public pronouncement, which impugned the characters of members of the Senate Standing Committee on Autonomous Agencies and the entire plenary for engaging in exposed acts of corruption during confirmation hearings.
ALJA is a conglomeration of current and retired Liberian journalists residing in the Americas. The Organization was founded in 1998 in Washington, D.C. USA, by a group of well-meaning Liberian journalists. The Association is a 501c (3) non-profit media advocacy group based in the United States of America (USA); and it is currently headquartered in the Mid-west, specifically Minneapolis, Minnesota.